My yard is popping with zucchini right about now and while I never tire of this veggie, I am always trying to come up with different ways to prepare it. I literally jumped out of bed with this idea in my head today and ran to the kitchen to bring it to fruition. Construction wise, it's kind of like a lasagna made with zucchini but taste wise, it's quite different and it is a great way to take advantage of the summer's yard-fresh zucchini abundance. If you don't have a yard full of zucchini, don't fret, hit a farmers market, because nothing compares to farm fresh or in my case, yard fresh!
Now onto this glorious zucchini bake!
Feed 4 very hungry people or 6 average hungry people
What Do I Need
4 Large Zucchini (I used one MASSIVE one and one large one because I was away for two weeks and my husband was afraid to pick the zucchini, but you really don't want massive zucchini, they get seedy and lose some flavor. A perfect zucchini is 7" to 8" long.)
8 Ounces of Ground Beef
1 MD Yellow Onion (minced)
4 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
44 Ounces of Crushed Tomatoes
1 T Oregano
3 T Parmigiano - Reggiano Cheese
16 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Pre-heat oven to 375.
In a large sauce pan heat a drizzle of olive oil, add your onions and garlic and saute until golden over medium heat, about 3 - 5 minutes. Now add your ground beef, breaking it up and mixing it in with your garlic and onions. Let it brown for about 4 minutes. Now carefully pour in your crushed tomatoes and mix for a few minutes. Now add the oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Lower heat and move onto your zucchini prep!
Wash and dry your zucchini and cut off ends, cut the zucchini into 1/4" rounds (one thing that I think would make this dish extra bonkers is to dust your cut zucchini with a bit of flour, but since I stay away from white flour I did not do that. However, if you do do it, let me know how it turns out). Next, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large sauté pan and fry your zucchini for about 4 minutes, flipping them midway through. They should take on a bit of a warm golden hue and soften a bit. Work in batches as to not overcrowd your pan and feel free to add more oil inbetween batches, you want the pan wet with oil.
When your zucchini are all lightly fried, grease a lasagna pan or baking dish, I use Renderings pure lard because it's real. I'll take the extra fat and flavor here over things I can't pronounce, I think it's a place where its worth it! Place a layer of your zucchini rounds across the bottom of the pan, top with 1 T of Parmiggiano and then spread a layer of your sauce over the zucchini, next slice your mozzarella into thin slices and layer on top of the sauce, repeat the whole thing, a layer of zucchini, a layer of parmigiana, a layer of sauce and then a layer of mozzarella!
Bake in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes, then place in the broiler for about 3 - 5 minutes, depending on your broiler strength. Don't wander away at this point, you want your mozzarella to bubble and brown, but not burn!
Serve and enjoy! This is one of those dishes that tastes even better tomorrow!